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Category Archives: yoga

Meditation for Chronic Pain

There are some healing therapies that I incorporate into my day that I do not pretend to totally understand but know they are beneficial. Meditation is one of them. Here is a great article from showing brain scan evidence that meditation “leads to measurable changes in brain function”.

In addition to that, here is a CD that I purchased recently that is just marvelous for use with meditation or just relaxed listening. “Crystal Bowls, Chakra Chants” by Johnathan Goldman, who is a visionary in healing sound therapies. I could immediately feel it resonate within my body when I first heard the clips. I know there is a lot of science behind sound healing. I am just glad I do not have to totally understand it to be able to benefit.

What are some of your favorite healing sounds?

Reconnecting Mind and Body

When something hurts, we want to eliminate it. As a child, my legs hurt a lot. I convinced myself that my life would be so much better if I could just cut my legs off and throw them away. So mentally, I know I did that. My self image existed from my waist up, I did not need or want my legs.

My hip replacement surgeries relieved me of my pain. But here was the tough part, convincing myself that my legs could now be my friend. How could I begin to love something that had hurt me so much? And how could I trust that they would not betray me again.

It has taken me a long time to search for these answers on how to reconnect. Things that have really helped  have  been alternative therapies: reiki, cranial-sacral, healing touch, acupuncture, meditation, body talk and others. I don’t claim to understand how they accomplish this goal, but I feel a difference. And for me I know I feel better because I care more about my whole body and its well being. And that I believe that I can do things, like mild yoga, that were out of reach previously.

I continue going to professionals for this healing. I accept that it has helped and I am thankful for the role it has played.

Have you had experiences with therapies that have assisted you in reconnecting painful body parts?

Improving Chronic Pain Management

There is a wonderfully researched and clearly stated  article on Dr. Grinstead’s blog regarding improving Chronic Pain Management. The problems are listed; informed recommendations are made. Let’s move the information forward and spread the word about what needs to be done. Here is a link.

“We need to Improve Chronic Pain Management” Dr. S. Grinstead

Recuperation vs. Recovery

There is a great article in the Health section of the New York Times by Dana Jennings discussing the diference between recuperating and recovering from an illness. “Healing Physically, Yet Still Not Whole”

He touches on so many crucial aspects of how totally a chronic pain/disease experience can be and what is required to be yourself again.

Can you identify with aspects of his experience?

Lift your spirits with color

Artists are fortunate. Even on the grayest of days, we can choose to surround ourselves with color and get lost in it.

Today is very gray. Thought I would share some of my color.

M. Byrne EigelWhat gives you a lift when you spirit is in need?

Thought can be Painful

Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive, because your words become your behaviours.
Keep your behaviours positive, because your behaviours become your habits.
Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny.
Mahatma Gandhi

A friend recently posted this quote by Gandhi on her website. Thought is powerful in regards to pain in ways that defy logic.

About 5 years ago I was in an auto accident. No bones were broken, but my whole body of nerves and muscle were bitterly affected. It took a few years to get out of the funk. And when I was feeling good all I had to do was to be overwhelmed by demands put on me and my body was back in pain again.

One December, school semester was ended, I had submitted grades and all I wanted to do was to sit down in my favorite chair to have a cup of coffee. I was feeling wonderful and happy to be on semester break. Now I could do “my stuff”.

I had been keeping a list of have-to’s. The simple act of unfolding the list and looking at what needed to be done in the next week sent a wave of pain from my head to toes. I felt limp and robbed of my enthusiasm. My body just echoed with ache. I knew I had to lie down and try to meditate or at least relax.

I awoke about an hour later. I tried to rationalize what had happened that morning: I felt energetic, looked at a list of to-do’s and spiraled into pain. What was this about?

I slowly realized that just thinking about things that I felt I needed to do was enough to take the wind out of my sails. So I knew I had to adjust my thinking.  I could control pain on some level through my thoughts.

I threw the list away.  I allowed myself one to-do. And said that when that was complete, I would add one more to-do. One to-do at a time.

It meant that I had to distinguish between what I needed to do and what I wanted to do. There were a lot things that I had to delegate to others or disregard.

No one was hurt. I felt remarkable better.  It was a lifestyle change and it gave me life. Now I know that thoughts alone can be painful.

Have you had the experience that your thoughts alone can cause pain?

How have you dealt with it?

After the Physical Therapy

It has been over a year since I had to have my hip replacement revised.  The original surgery was over 19 years ago, so I felt fortunate that things had gone well for so long without any problems. But one day I woke up to extreme pain when I put weight on my leg to walk. After an MRI, it was confirmed that surgery was needed, my hip was out of position within the socket. I had to wait to “schedule” a time that I could take several weeks off for surgery and rehabilitation.

After waiting 5 months, I was psyched and ready. I knew this was going to be a bit of a recovery and require extreme motivation to work through the post surgery phase of “moving through the pain”.  For several months I put my best energy into recuperating, following the daily exercises and meeting with my physical therapist. It was a job that I took seriously.

Then came “getting back my normal routine”. Here is where the flaw begins to emerge,  being able to go back to daily activities and still find the time to do all the exercises. I was good for a while. The exercises were fresh in my brain. But as time went on, I tended to find less and less time for the full range of exercises that I had been doing. I do not remember being told that I needed to do all of them forever. I just figured I had done them for months, my leg felt strong, and what I did find time to do was adequate.

Bad idea. It is now almost a year since surgery and my knee is killing me. I did not mention that my hip recovered to well that my knee soon emerged as also needing some orthoscopic surgery 6 months after the hip revision. Because this surgery was seemingly less significant than hip surgery and I was back to a normal routine earlier, I gave recovery less time and attention.

What I know now is that exercising is a forever thing. Not just for fitness and good health. It is because  muscles have been compromised and need extra strengthening and stretching. Where did I miss hearing this??? Are surgeons afraid that if we knew this before surgery we might opt out?

Have you had surgeries and discovered that your muscles are not quite as strong as they had been and need some constant attention? How are you able to incorporate it into your “daily routine”.

Pain and Depression

One of the things that drives me to want to see multi-intervention Resource Centers for chronic pain sufferers and recovering sufferers is that depression is so often a partner with pain. It is well documented that chronic pain sufferers often spiral into depression creating a much more complicated health situation compounding their diseases and treatments.
The professional communities solutions of surgery, physical therapy and medications are only a portion of the answers. Patients need to feel supported through their journey. And that may require several resources. Such as:

A “Pain Pal”, someone who has been there and understands how pain can undermine your life.
Healing mind body therapies like healing touch, massage and cranial sacral to help reintegrate your body parts.
Stimulating activities, like art and writing workshops, that teach new skills to keep your mind engaged and take the focus off the pain.
Adaptive yoga and exercise programs that keep muscles engaged and strong, but do not aggravate the pain.
Pain management counseling to assure that the pain is kept in check and does not overwhelm the individual.

The following is a link to a Health Blog that has a formal discussion about depression and states that women are twice as likely to suffer a depression than men. It also lists several posts that deal with examining interventions like massage therapy, homeopathy, and what current research reflects.

Health Blog

My prayer is that those of us who understand the complexities of pain keep dialoguing with peers and professionals so that we can broaden our understanding of “pain” from the inside out.  And that we can improve the amount of available interventions for all those on this journey. Be well.

Pain Body

I had a brief conversation with a local physical therapist, Kelly, tonight after yoga.  She complemented me on how well I was doing in class. I never feel that I am, but the yoga instructor, Rebekah,  also a physical therapist, does an outstanding job of showing me how to modify positions.

I said that I felt something like yoga exercises should be a mandatory part of the healing process after prolonged chronic pain and surgery. She agreed, and said that anyone who has lived in a painful body has learned things they cannot do. And they need to be shown that they CAN do more things, but need to learn or understand that.

To me this drives home the point that surgery and physical therapy are only a portion of the healing tools  necessary for successful chronic pain recovery. And that activities like yoga, which I never imagined myself being able to do, are capable of being adapted for special circumstances and serve to reintegrate our mind and body for improved health and lifestyle.

I would love to hear  comments about your experiences or thoughts on this.